Archie Battersbee's mum: 'I’ve done everything I promised my little boy I’d do'

Credit: PA Media

The mother of Archie Battersbee says she's done everything she promised her son she would do as the family prepare for his life support to be withdrawn.

A last-ditch plea to the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in the case was rejected late on Friday, following a High Court ruling that he must remain at Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Archie’s parents had fought a long-running legal battle over the withdrawal of treatment and in recent days made bids to the High Court, Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights to have him transferred to a hospice to die.

The 12-year-old has been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother in April and is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.

Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance have fought a long-running legal battle over the withdrawal of treatment. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

In an interview with Sky News recorded on Friday, Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, of Southend, Essex, said she is "petty broken" and that the day had been "absolutely awful".

Breaking down, she said: "The last however many weeks since 7 April, I don’t think there’s been a day that hasn’t been awful, really."

Ms Dance added: "It’s been really hard. Despite the hard strong face and appearance obviously in front of the cameras up until now, I’ve been pretty broken."

She said the hospital had made it clear there were no more options and that life support would be withdrawn at 10am on Saturday.

Asked if there was anything more she can do, Ms Dance said: “No. I’ve done everything that I promised my little boy I’d do. And I’ve done it.”

Supporters brought flowers to the hospital on Saturday morning.

Shelley Elias, 43, said she had come to the Royal London Hospital because “I wanted his mum Hollie and the family to know I was thinking of them”.

Mrs Elias, a mother-of-two from Stepney, east London, who said she vaguely knew Archie’s mother, brought flowers, a card and some candles.

Hollie Dance with her son Archie Battersbee Credit: Family handout/PA

She said: "I did not know what to write because there are no words that will take the pain away.

"I just wanted the mum and her family to know that I am here for them.

"My boy is 12, the same age as Archie, and this just puts things in perspective. When things like this happen, you just think ‘I have nothing to moan about in life’."

Candles flickered in the shape of the letter “A” and also formed a love heart around a card with Archie’s name in a makeshift tribute at a statue in front of the hospital.

It was created by passers-by who said they wanted to show their support.

A spokesman with campaign group Christian Concern, which is supporting Archie’s family, told the PA news agency: "All legal routes have been exhausted.

"The family are devastated and are spending precious time with Archie."

Barts Health NHS Trust did not immediately update its statement, instead referring to its previous position which said no changes will be made to Archie’s care “until the outstanding legal issues are resolved”.

In a High Court ruling on Friday morning, Mrs Justice Theis concluded it was not in Archie’s best interests to be moved to a hospice and the Court of Appeal rejected permission to appeal that decision.

Archie with mum, Hollie Dance.

Christian Concern said the family had wanted to challenge the High Court ruling by arguing there had been a violation of articles six and eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article six is the right to a fair trial and article eight is the right to respect for private and family life.

A spokesman for the European court said it had received a request from representatives of Archie’s parents under Rule 39, which allow it to apply “interim measures” in “exceptional” cases, and that the complaints “fell outside the scope” of that rule, and so it would not intervene.

The Court of Appeal judges said Mrs Justice Theis’ ruling in the High Court dealt "comprehensively with each of the points raised on behalf of the parents".

The judges said they had "reached the clear conclusion that each of her decisions was right for the reasons she gave".

They added: "It follows that the proposed appeal has no prospect of success and there is no other compelling reason for the Court of Appeal to hear an appeal."

The Court of Appeal judges also said one of the arguments presented by Archie’s parents was "flawed legally", adding: "It is also not easy to understand as it seeks to argue that Archie’s best interests have ceased to be relevant."

Doctors treating the schoolboy for the last four months declared Archie to be "brain-stem dead", prompting a lengthy but ultimately failed legal battle by his family to continue his life support treatment in the hope he would recover.

Archie Battersbee timeline

Archie Battersbee - The story of a four-month court battle

7 April - Hollie Dance finds Archie unconscious in their home in Southend, Essex, with a ligature over his head. She believes he was taking part in an online challenge.

8 April - Archie is moved to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

26 April - Barts Health Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital, starts High Court proceedings to run brain stem tests. Hollie Dance urges judge Mrs Justice Arbuthnot to not approve the brain stem tests to "give him [Archie] time to fight back".

13 May - Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules brain stem tests should be carried out

16 May -Two specialists at Royal London Hospital try to conduct brain stem tests but are unable to do so as Archie fails to respond to peripheral nerve stimulation test.

25 May - A hearing is held to decide if further MRI scans should be conducted. Ms Dance and Paul Battersbee, Archie's father, do not consent as they fear moving Archie will cause him harm.

27 May - Court approves that further MRI scans should be conducted.

31 May - MRI scans conducted.

6-8 June - Court hearing held to decide if Archie's life support treatment should continue. Specialists say it is highly likely that Archie is "brain stem dead", and that tests conducted showed no discernible brain activity, revealing "significant areas of tissue necrosis". A doctor for the family tells the court he knows of cases where people diagnosed as being dead by "neurological criteria" have been proven to be alive.

13 June 2022 - Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that Archie is dead based on MRI scan results. "I find that Archie died at noon on Monday 31 May 2022, which was shortly after the MRI scans taken that day," she rules. Archie's family immediately indicate they will apply for permission to appeal the decision.

20 June - The family mount an appeal to the same judge, arguing that evidence had not shown “beyond reasonable doubt” that the youngster was dead. Mrs Justice Arbuthnot agrees that the family have a "compelling" case and the matter is sent to the Court of Appeal.

29 June - Three Court of Appeal judges uphold the family's appeal, and order a fresh hearing to take place at the High Court in front of a different judge.

11 July - The new hearing begins in the High Court before Mr Justice Hayden. Doctors treating Archie at Royal London Hospital argue that continuing the treatment will only "delay the inevitable".

15 July - Mr Justice Hayden concludes that doctors can lawfully stop providing life-support treatment, calling the medical evidence "compelling and unanimous". He adds: "There are unfortunately no treatments possible to reverse the damage that has been caused to Archie's brain." Once again, Archie's family say they will appeal the decision.

25 July - Three Court of Appeal judges hear the appeal, but back Mr Justice Hayden's ruling that treatment can end as it is in Archie's best interests. A stay is put in place for Archie's treatment to continue until 2pm on 27 July.

27 July - As the stay expires, Archie's family are given a further 24 hours to appeal to European Court of Human Rights. However, they say that court has a "track record" of rejecting cases such as Archie's and instead want to go to the United Nations. They apply to the Supreme Court to be allowed to appeal to the UN.

28 July - Supreme Court judges refuse to intervene, and support the Court of Appeal ruling that Royal London Hospital can withdraw life support treatment lawfully.

29 July - Archie's family make an application to the UN, under a protocol which allows individuals and families to make complaints about violation of disabled people's rights).

30 July - The UN issues the UK government's legal department with a request so that it has time to consider Archie's case.

31 July - The UK government asks the High Court to delay the withdrawal of treatment so that the UN has time to consider the case.

1 August - A last-minute hearing organised at the request of the health secretary. Lawyers representing Archie's parents say unless the withdrawal of life support treatment is postponed, the court would be "complicit" in "flagrant breach of international law". But Court of Appeal judges refuses to postpone the withdrawal of life-support, extending it only until midday on Tuesday, 2 August. The most senior family judge in the country says the UN convention is an "unconventional international treaty and is not part of UK law", and that it continues to be in Archie's best interests to stop treatment.

2 August - Archie’s parents are refused permission to appeal against the latest ruling at the Supreme Court. Ms Dance says Barts Health NHS Trust will begin to withdraw Archie’s life support on August 3 at 11am unless the family have submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights by 9am that day. The trust will not begin removing life-support until all legal issues have been resolved.

3 August - The European Court of Human Rights refuses the last-ditch application. Archie’s family say they intend to ask the High Court to allow the schoolboy to be moved to a hospice.

4 August - Nearly four months after Archie suffered traumatic head injuries, his parents formally lodge High Court proceedings over the move to hospice care – something the hospital opposes. Archie’s care continues. A hearing takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, lasting late into the evening.

5 August - Mrs Justice Theis rules it is not in Archie’s best interests to be moved to a hospice. The High Court judge refuses the family permission to appeal against her ruling, granting a stay on the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment until 2pm on Friday to allow them to go directly to the Court of Appeal.

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